Residents of Shipdham have another anxious wait ahead on the future of two proposed wind turbines in the village after the High Court sent their fate back into the hands of the planning inspectorate.
A government inspector granted permission for the turbines on appeal following a public inquiry last year but a condition imposed to prevent noise nuisance was challenged by Nicholas and Lee Hoare who live next to the proposed site.
At a brief hearing in London, Mr Justice Lloyd Jones approved a consent order agreed between the Secretary of State, Breckland Council and developers Ecotricity, that the decision should be quashed and sent back to the Secretary of State for reconsideration on grounds that the condition was “unenforceable and imprecise” in a move that could set a new precedent for the ruling of planning permission for wind turbines.
The residents are now eager to hear what a new planning inspector decides to do with the case. He or she will take further representations from the interested parties and choose whether to simply re-write the condition, take it back to another public inquiry or completely change tack and refuse permission.
Mr Hoare told the EDP he hoped it would go back to another inquiry.
“New evidence has come out since the last inquiry that points to noise problems, particularly in the East of England,” he said. “We hope common sense prevails in the end. It does show that you can’t put these things up as near to people as the developers would like.”
John Chinery, solicitor at Breckland Council, said it could become a long drawn-out process.
“The timetable will be pushed back some months,” he said. “The inspector needs to decide whether any noise condition can be adequately drafted that would fit all the circumstances of the case. But this is far from the end of the turbines.”
A spokesman for Ecotricity said that the issue had compounded the company’s frustration over the numerous obstacles thrown in their way and the resulting delays.
She said: “We’ve just been through a process no less arduous or expensive than if we had applied to build a nuclear power station – and all for two wind turbines, it’s crazy. We just want to get on and build it.
“We hope to build this year but delays have come to so much that it will be faster and cheaper for all concerned if the decision gets passed back to the inspectorate. The inspectorate will then be able to correct any deficiency they find and reissue consent.”
By Kathryn Cross
23 February 2007
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